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Babies born to immigrant women in Ontario bigger than those born in their mothers' native countries
Date:2/8/2013

TORONTO, Feb. 8, 2013Women who immigrate to Ontario have babies who are bigger than those born in their native countries, new research has shown.

But the babies of immigrant mothers from East and South Asia are still smaller than babies born to mothers who were themselves born in Canada.

The typical male born to an immigrant mother in Ontario weighs 115 grams more than babies in her native country, said Dr. Joel Ray, a researcher and physician at St. Michael's Hospital. The typical female weighs 112 grams more than babies in her mother's native country, he said.

His findings appear online in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.

"Nearly all infants born to women in their native country have lower birth weights than those born to mothers who had emigrated to Canada," Dr. Ray said.

Dr. Ray said he was not sure why the weight differences exist. He said it may be a byproduct of an immigration policy that selects more robust and well-off immigrants. Or it may be that immigrants ingest more calories and exercise less than in their native countries, so both they and their babies are bigger.

There were some exceptions notably Swedish and Israeli boys and girls, all of who were bigger when born in their native countries. Dr. Ray said this may be explained by high levels of health care and social services in Sweden, and the small number of babies born to Swedish immigrants in Ontario. For Israelis, the explanation may be the higher rate of obesity among women of child-bearing age and-or the possibility Israelis do no systematically gain weight after arriving in Canada as some other immigrants do.

The biggest weight differences tended to be between babies born in Ontario and those born in poorer, less developed countries.

Dr. Ray said the weight differences highlight the need for newborn weight curves designed specifically for immigrants. Neither those designed for Canadian-born women or women in their nativ
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Contact: Leslie Shepherd
shepherdl@smh.ca
416-864-6094
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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